Monday, November 22, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I've been a bad blogger the past few months. Here's a quick recap:
Counterpart moved back to Merke. I am now teaching in the mornings and tutoring after lunch. Excellent schedule.
Spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in Taraz with the Newbies (new volunteers who arrived in Kaz in August). Made pumpkin pie, Morris rolls, etc. AND my first turkey.
MST (Mid Service Training). All the Kaz 20 volunteers reunited in Almaty for a PC conference. Saw friendly old faces.
Thailand. Thailand. Thailand. Spent 10 days in Thailand with three other Peace Corps Volunteers (Corinne, Nick and Andy). Spent the first four days exploring Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai Province) - riding elephants, averaging 4 Thai meals a day, drinking delicious Thai beer, bamboo rafting down a river, "hiking" through the jungle and seeing waterfalls. Spent the last 5 days on an island (Koh Samed) doing absolutely nothing. Woke up early in the mornings and went for a run (until I got terrible blisters) then I started swimming (in the ocean!) in the mornings. Sat on a beach reading, throwing a frisbee, eating, playing cards, and doing nothing productive whatsoever all day long.
Returned to Merke. Celebrated the New Year with good friends (Sagar and AC - who returned from America earlier this fall) and rang it in together with the Russian neighbors.
Currently on Winter Break from schools until January 9th. Have split my time between Merke and Taraz with nothing on the agenda but movies and friends.
Kreshenya is on January 19th. For which I plan to head north to the city of Petropavlovsk to partake in an old Russian Orthodox tradition: jumping into a frozen river in Kazakh Siberia.
I've got lots of things to say and a little more time to say them, so look forward to hearing from me soon. In the mean time, Thailand pictures are posted on Facebook (you can email me for a link).
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
So, I decided to write to you, dear readers, for some motivation. Ask me questions. Anything you'd like, from mundane to the complex. Whatever you find yourself hoping to read about when you visit this blog, ask me. I'd love to have some new topics to write about. And with a year's experience under my belt, I feel almost qualified to talk about them.
*I suppose this will also serve as a little test to see if anyone is still reading this blog? :)
Thursday, October 1, 2009
My students are not known for their writing skills, and last year instead of tackling this problem head on, I just followed my counterpart's lead and steered clear of nearly any and all writing assignments. This year, I have a lot more flexibility in the classroom (as you saw with the Pirates lesson plan) and so I've decided to slowly approach the task of improving their writing.
I started my 7th grade students out with a poem. I gave them the line prompts and they just had to finish the thoughts. The poem was titled "In My Future Life". Some of the things they came up with were absolutely priceless. I decided to include a few to give a better idea of what working with Kazakhstanian students in the English classroom can be like. (I haven't omitted spelling errors, these are original works of art).
In my future life,
I'd like to be a ghost,
I'd like to fryghten people
And go cemetery
In my future life,
I'd like to be a pirat
I'd like to whistle a song
Then stolen a treasure
And run at the yaght
Please ban all fish from ocean.
In my future life,
I'd like to be a skeleton
I'd like to eat people
And steal treasures
Then jump around my island
Please ban all lions from Saturn.
In my future life,
I'd like to be hungry worm
I'd like to dance in the box
And I'd like to drink wine
Then kiss a turtle
Please ban all seagull from Jakarta
In my future life,
I'd like to be a martian
I'd like to dance
And jump, jump, jump
Then drink a sea of milk
Please ban all people from earth.
And my personal favorite...
In my future life
I'd like to be a zombie
I'd like to crazy
And eat people
Please give me to play with baby's.
Despite the obvious errors, I can't help but be terribly proud of these kids.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Daniar (we would call him Daniel in America) is one of the sweetest little boys at my school. He also participated in my Summer Camp.
Little boys and their capes... (this was Germany I believe)
The Russian 5th grade class. They were Ukraine.
All the little 5th graders. SO cute.
Monday, September 21, 2009
It's the end of the third week of school and I still don't have a permanent schedule. I am told what my day's schedule will be at approximately 1:30pm the day before. This is not uncommon for Kazakhstan. The administration takes the month of September to get organized and the teachers scramble about making do in the mean time. More importantly than the teacher not having a reliable schedule is the fact that none of the English classes have books. Aparently this is also something that takes the month of September to coordinate. For anyone who has ever taught students before, I'm sure you can imagine how difficult it is for a teacher to plan lessons without a book and with less than 24 hours notice as to which classes will be taught.
As a result, for the past three weeks I have been making up lesson plans using the internet, my own creativity or any other resource I have available. This week, running low on ideas, I came across a lesson theme online that I thought might be of interest for my 7th form students. The theme? Pirates. I found a song online (The Pirate Song) and pulled the Pittsburg Pirate logo off the internet. After learning new vocabulary words (like peg leg), and listening to The Pirate Song, I showed them the Pittsburg Pirate logo and told them that for the last 10 minutes of class, their job was to design a NEW logo for the baseball team and that we would vote on the winner (and that person would receive a 5 for the day - this is the equivalent of an A+).
I thought you might like to see what my students came up with...
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
So, I'm a procrastinator by nature. Honestly, I blame my brother. He always excelled at procrastinating when we lived at home together and I immediately understood that this was a way of life that I needed to adopt. It didn't take long before I, too, excelled in the art of procrastination. In Davis, 90% of my essays were started and completed the morning they were due and I always seemed to get away with it.
Since arriving back on the farm I've gladly welcomed my procrastinating ways back into my daily life. Dishes? I'll do them in the morning. Cleaning the floors? Eh, I'll wear socks. I can clean the floors on Thursday. Bathing? My hair doesn't start to look greasy until after 2.5 days. I'll boil water when I absolutely have to. Well, I believe the time has come for my lesson to be taught.
Yesterday afternoon, a mere 24 hours before Joe is planning to arrive in Merke, I decided it was probably about time to clean those floors and the few dishes left over from breakfast. I went out to the pump and began pumping. It took me a minute before I realized nothing was coming out of the pump. At first, I assumed I must just be doing it wrong (as if the past 5 months hasn't been lesson enough) but quickly realized that no, indeed something was terribly wrong. Every time I pulled and pushed the pump the darn thing only yielded air. I ran over to my neighbor's house to play the "stupid American" card, but she was still at work.
So, now I've got dirty floors, I'm feeding Kairu bottled water and the dirty dishes keep piling up. Not to mention the fact that I am now a day past my greasy hair limit and haven't gotten a run in for 3 days. It's a really bizarre feeling to realize that you don't have access to water. Suppose I'm going to have to stock up on gallon bottles of water at the local магазин (shop) that or start carrying buckets to and from a neighbor's water pump...
I'm sorry I procrastinate. I know I won't change my ways, but I would really love some water right about now! :)
Monday, September 7, 2009
After a trip to the "white house" (the toilets at our school), Saltanat, Dinara (the other amazing new and young English teacher) and I came across an adorable little puppy on the school grounds. I crouched down and called him to me and he came galloping across the path up to my legs. He wasn't afraid of me at all. Saltanat eyed me (knowing full well what I was thinking). I asked her if the puppy was a stray and she asked the groundskeeper (who was standing nearby). Sure enough, he had no home. Saltanat and Dinara encouraged me to adopt him and I decided that when my lessons were finished I would think about taking this dog home with me.